Dairy Levy Review


Levy Poll Advisory Committee logo

A review of the Dairy Australia levy is about to get underway with the formation of a Levy Poll Advisory Committee (LPAC).

The levy is reviewed at least every five years with input from farmers and other industry stakeholders.

The LPAC manages the levy review process and it comprises a majority of levy payers along with representatives from industry bodies. Ron Storey has been appointed Independent Chair of the LPAC.

Nominations to become an LPAC levy payer representative are now closed. The committee members will be announced in the coming weeks.

The LPAC will provide a recommendation around a change to the levy. This may lead to a poll where levy payers will have the opportunity to vote.

Levy payers will be kept informed as the review progresses.

LPAC Members

Chair - Ron Storey
Ron Storey is an experienced agribusiness executive and Non-Executive Director. He is Chairman of the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre and a former Chairman of Pulse Australia Limited. During his executive career Mr Storey was Head of NZX Agribusiness Australia, Managing Director of Australian Crop Forecasters and General Manager Marketing, AWB Ltd. 

LPAC Terms of Reference

The Levy Poll Advisory Committee’s Terms of Reference summarises the role of the committee and requirements of committee members.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Levy Poll Advisory Committee? 

The Levy Poll Advisory Committee (LPAC) is convened to provide a recommendation on whether the levy should change and subsequently, whether a Levy Poll vote should occur.   
 

Who is on the LPAC? 

The LPAC will comprise a majority of levy payers who are reflective of levy payers nationally.   

  • An independent Chair
  • Levy payers, based on direct nominations 
  • Representatives from industry organisations, as set out in legislation. 
     

How is the LPAC appointed?  

  • An independent Chair is considered by a selection panel who recommends the appointment to the Chair of DA and President of ADF. The Chair must not be an employee, member, Board member or other body aligned to ADF, Australian Dairy Products Federation (ADPF) or DA. This Chair will be qualified with the right skills to lead the committee and the process. 
  • The Chair invites nominations for other representatives. All dairy levy payers are able to nominate for the committee and applications will be assessed by a selection panel who will ensure an appropriate representation of dairy levy payers as required by the legislation. 
     

Who can apply? 

LPAC has a majority of levy payers, alongside representatives from industry bodies. All levy payers can nominate to be an LPAC representative, including sharefarmers who may not be the registered levy payer contact for a farm business. People working within farm businesses are also able to nominate. All nominees should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the role of RD&E, sound business skills and strong dairy networks. If you think LPAC is not for you, you might know someone who can represent farmer views on the levy?

What is the time commitment? 

LPAC will convene 3-4 times mostly via online meetings, limited travel may be required. If LPAC recommends no change to the levy and determines a poll is not required, representatives can expect their commitment will end in June 2021. However, should LPAC recommend a change to the levy (increase or decrease) and determine a poll is required, then a further 4-8 meetings may be required over June 2021 to April 2022. 

Do LPAC representatives receive remuneration? 

LPAC representatives will be paid a sitting fee of $330/day for time spent on LPAC matters and any travel costs (fares, meals, accommodation) will be covered.

Why is a levy poll not mandatory? 

In late 2015, all dairy levy payers were asked to vote in a poll based on the recommendations of the Dairy Levy Poll Process Review undertaken earlier that year. Levy payers supported the removal of the compulsory requirement for Dairy Australia to convene a levy poll at least every five years. Instead, a LPAC would be convened to determine if a change to the levy should be recommended.  
The aim was to ensure that the costs associated with a levy poll are not incurred if there is no change to the poll. In early 2016, legislation passed the Federal Parliament to amend Section 9 of the Dairy Produce Act 1986 (the Act) and effect this change. The new legislation also provides an option for Group A members to petition for a change if they disagree with an LPAC recommendation not to conduct a levy poll. 
 

What’s the process in the lead up to a levy poll? 

Once a levy poll is triggered the levy poll must be conducted with the following key considerations: 

  • Stakeholder consultation about the poll must be conducted with levy payers (the Consultation plan requires input from the Commonwealth Government and LPAC). 
  • Levy payers will be provided with a range of information to assist them make a decision on the poll (information pack). 

An information pack including voting instructions and documentation around performance, and use of levy funds, is required to be sent to all levy payers at least five weeks prior to the poll and approved by the Minister. 
 

How does levy poll voting work? 

The levy poll must be designed to determine which levy option is preferred by eligible voters: 

  • Single option ballot: whether the single option is preferred over no change. 
  • Preferential ballot: if there are two or more levy options presented.   

Electronic voting may occur if the LPAC is satisfied the requirements in the legislation are met. 
 

What are voting entitlements based on? 

  • One vote for each whole dollar of dairy service levy (if any) that the entity paid to the Commonwealth before the cut-off day for the levy year.  Provisions apply for trusts and deceased estates. 
  • Dairy Australia may invite levy payers to provide additional information to assist in determination of voting entitlements. 
  • Levy payers have an opportunity to have their voting entitlements reconsidered and if the levy payer remains dissatisfied, this can be escalated to an independent disputes panel (membership must exclude Dairy Australia employees, an eligible voter or their associate; or the returning officer).   
     

What happens once a poll occurs? 

  • When the Returning Officer is satisfied the votes have been accurately counted and the preferred levy option is determined, the result must be declared as the levy option recommended to the Minister. 
  • After making this declaration, the Returning Officer must inform Dairy Australia.   

Dairy Australia then has 14 business days after the declaration to: 

  • inform voters in writing a written summary of the levy poll results. 
  • notify the Minister. 

Ballot papers must be kept for two years from the date of the levy poll in the event of an order lodged for a review of the results. 

Contact

Please speak to a member of your regional team (Regional Development Program). Questions relating to the levy review process or nominating for the Levy Poll Advisory Committee should be sent to enquiries@dairylevyreview.com.au.

Updated information will also be made available throughout the levy review process.

 

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